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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Art
Is the bust of Nefertiti a fake? — Swiss art historian Henri Stierlin argues that the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti on display in Berlin's Pergamon museum is a fake. He says that it was created around 1912 as a way for an archaeologist to color test ancient pigments found at the digs, but when a German prince mistook it for an ancient work of art, the archaeologist didn't have the courage to correct his important guest. And so the statue came to be regarded as an ancient work of art. [Agence France Presse]
Posted: Thu May 07, 2009.   Comments (4)

Mystery Stones Explained — The mystery of why someone has been leaving white stones with cryptic black markings on them around Orleans, Massachusetts has been solved. The creator of the stones sent an explanatory letter to the local paper: The writer said the backward “R” and an “R” separated by three slashes on one line and an “X” book ended by two vertical lines underneath means “Remember 9-11.” He (most believe the writer is a male) said he came up with the design about two years ago “When I became…
Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009.   Comments (11)

World’s Largest Lamb Sculpture — Some guy named Bill Veall claims to have discovered the world's largest rock sculpture. It's somewhere in the Peruvian Andean mountains, and it's in the shape of a "sacred lamb". He says he found it by using satellite imaging techniques to search for ancient shapes and formations. I guess that rules out any possibility he's just seeing what he wants to see. (sarcasm) From Sky News: "Mr Veall, who studies the relationships between astronomy and archaeological monuments, has faced a…
Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2008.   Comments (25)

Cranial Painting — In 1966, before becoming a regular on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and before launching his perennial campaign for the US Presidency, comedian Pat Paulsen got into newspapers by pretending to be a "cranial painter". From the March 6, 1966 Mansfield News Journal: USING HIS HEAD -- Artist Pat Paulsen, who shuns more traditional means of painting, demonstrates how he produces masterpieces -- with "cranial painting." The 35-year-old San Franciscan, now appearing at the Ice House in…
Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2008.   Comments (6)


The Mona Lisa Suicide — Occasionally I've run across references to a French artist who supposedly committed suicide because he was driven mad by the mystery of the Mona Lisa's smile. There aren't many details to the story. The Telegraph, in an article from 2003, summarizes the entire tale: On June 23, 1852, a young French artist, Luc Maspero, threw himself from the fourth floor window of his Paris hotel. In a final letter, he wrote: "For years I have grappled desperately with [Mona Lisa's] smile. I prefer to…
Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2008.   Comments (4)

Benjamin West and the Venetian Secret — The Yale Center for British Art is hosting an exhibition about an obscure 18th-century art hoax (one that I had never heard of before). The exhibition is titled "Benjamin West and the Venetian Secret" -- which makes it sound a bit like a new Harry Potter novel. From Art Knowledge News: In 1796 Benjamin West, the American-born President of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, fell victim to a remarkable fraud. A shadowy figure, Thomas Provis, and his artist daughter, Ann Jemima Provis,…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (1)

Frenchman Collides Sacredly with Nessie — Frenchman Don Jean Habrey, whose stage name is Hors Humain (beyond human), has announced his intention to embark on a "sacred collision with Nessie." Specifically, he plans to dive into Loch Ness and "breathe with the monster to send ultimate breathing to the world of childhood.” Later, he'll make a Christmas Eve visit to the Loch and "conjure the mythical creature from the loch, with chants, drumming, burning flares and bonfires round the shore." “Nessie will breathe golden pearls…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (2)

Pietro Psaier: Real or Hoax? — Pietro Psaier was an artist whose works fetch thousands of dollars. He was said to be a friend of Andy Warhol, which helps his saleability. But the question now perplexing the art world is whether Psaier ever actually existed. This, from the Telegraph, is the little that's known about his life: Information provided by an agent for the artist's estate states that Psaier was born in Italy in 1936 and died in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. He left Italy as a young man and went to…
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (1)

Art Object Prank — Small, round, orange stickers are appearing on objects all over downtown Appleton, Wisconsin. The stickers are stamped with the phrase "art object" and a price (ranging from one cent to $10,000). They're appearing on park benches, fire hydrants, store windows, etc. No one seems to know who's responsible for the stickers or what their purpose is. From the Appleton Post-Crescent: Police Lt. Steve Elliott said putting stickers on public or private objects without the owner's consent falls…
Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2008.   Comments (2)

Waterboard Thrill Ride — Visitors to New York's Coney Island amusement park now have the opportunity to try the "Waterboard Thrill Ride." As the sign outside proclaims, "It don't Gitmo better!" According to Reuters: A man with a black hood pours water on the face of a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit strapped to a table... The scene using robotic dolls is an installation built by artist Steve Powers to criticize waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique the United States has admitted using on terrorism…
Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2008.   Comments (4)

Spiderman Tattoo — Photos of a Spiderman tattoo, showing an illusion of skin tearing away to reveal a Spiderman costume beneath, have been circulating around, prompting people to wonder if the images are real or photoshopped. They are real. The tattoo is the work of Milwaukee-based artist Dan Hazelton. Check out his site for other examples of his work. He very briefly discusses the Spiderman tattoo on his myspace page in response to a question from someone who asks, "can i get a tear out like the…
Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008.   Comments (22)

Radioactive fallout helps authenticate art — This news is about a month old, but it's new to me! Russian curator Elena Basner thinks she might have developed a foolproof way of determining whether a work of art was made before or after 1945. She tests the paint for radioactive isotopes. From the Times Online: The first nuclear bomb was successfully tested in July 1945 in New Mexico. On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and three days later a second, more powerful bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. About 550…
Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2008.   Comments (12)

Arboleda’s Assassination Exhibit — Last week 28-year-old artist Yazmany Arboleda rented an empty storefront across the street from the New York Times building near Times Square to house his art exhibit. He then posted the title of the exhibit in the window: "The Assassination of Hillary Clinton / The Assassination of Barack Obama." It didn't take long for the secret service to show up and haul him in for questioning. Arboleda pleaded innocence, insisting he was referring to character assassination (by the media), not…
Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008.   Comments (1)

The World’s Largest Drawing — I'm very late with this one, but I thought it was worth including on the front page. I'll defer to David B. who posted about it a few days ago in the forum: A Swedish artist, Erik Nordenankar, recently made more that a few waves by claiming to have drawn the biggest picture in the world, a portrait of himself constructed of a single line 110 thousand km long. Nordenanker said his amazing drawing had been sketched out, not in ink or paint, but by the movements of a special briefcase…
Posted: Thu May 29, 2008.   Comments (4)

The Museum of Fakes — Smithsonian Magazine has an article about the Museum of Fakes, located in southern Italy. (Thanks, Joe.) It's like a real-life Museum of Hoaxes, but devoted exclusively to art fakes. Thanks to a special arrangement with the Italian police, it has become the repository for all counterfeit works of art confiscated in Italy (and there are a lot of them). Its director, Salvatore Casillo, is a sociologist who has spent 20 years studying counterfeits. My favorite detail in the article:
Posted: Wed May 21, 2008.   Comments (3)

Fake Road Signs — Fake road signs have been popping up around Frankston, Australia, amusing some and outraging others. The signs are said to be the work of a "mystery artist." From the Frankston Leader: The mystery Frankston signs have been carefully made to look like official road signs. Drivers have reported seeing them in Cranbourne-Frankston Rd, Langwarrin. Some think they are funny while others - and officials - aren't laughing... Although VicRoads' media department thought the signs were "very…
Posted: Wed May 07, 2008.   Comments (3)

Abortion as Art — Yale undergraduate Aliza Shvarts' senior art project has created a little bit of controversy. She has apparently created "a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself 'as often as possible' while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages." That's just lovely. (Already posted by whoeverur in the forum, but so bizarre it warrants being on the front page.) Shvarts insists that her project was not designed for "shock value."…
Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2008.   Comments (15)

The Art of Pierre Brassau — I received an email from Maria in Sweden who reports that when her mother recently passed away she became the owner of a painting by Pierre Brassau, the monkey artist. (See the article about Pierre Brassau in the hoaxipedia. To sum up the story: in 1964 a Swedish reporter placed some paintings drawn by a monkey in an art show, claiming they were the work of an avant-garde French artist, Pierre Brassau. After critics praised the paintings, he revealed the hoax.) Apparently Maria's…
Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2008.   Comments (9)

Hitler Draws Disney — First there was the Hitler Diary hoax. Now we may be witnessing the Hitler Disney hoax. William Hakvaag, director of a Norwegian war museum, claims to have found sketches (shown above) of various Disney characters drawn by Adolf Hitler. He says that he found the paintings hidden inside another painting signed "A. Hitler" that he bought at an auction. Hakvaag feels 100% confident that the drawings are authentic Hitlers. The Telegraph reports: Mr Hakvaag, who said he had performed…
Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2008.   Comments (9)

Quick Links: Feb 14, 2008 — Guy convinces girl he's a vampire-werewolf hybrid An unusual, but apparently effective pickup strategy. The guy was later charged with statutory sexual assault since he was 19 and she was 15. To prove to police that he was a genuine vampire/werewolf, he showed them his canine teeth. The police pointed out to him that "all mammals, including humans, have canine teeth." German museum discovers its Monet is a fake The clues: a retraced signature, it was painted over a drawing that was…
Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2008.   Comments (11)

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